Experts agree that mindfulness improves the quality of life. It increases relaxation, promotes healing, increases immune response, and decreases pain, anxiety, and depression. Cascade Academy focuses on creating a balance in the student’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self. Mindfulness brings clarity, and calmness to each area of their lives. A daily wellness walk, yoga and guided meditation are a few things that improve health and bring peace and joy.

Cascade Academy recently welcomed Carly Reid, a student of the Doctor of Nursing Practice. She collected research based on a study of the benefits of implementing a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI). The purpose of the study was to decrease anxiety and increase the ability to cope with life’s challenges by teaching and improving mindfulness skills.

Mindfulness defined by Reid is, “connection of mind, body and soul…it is the observation of one’s mind.” It is imperative to slow down, be present and take it all in which brings a sense of peace and relaxation. While paying close attention to what is occurring in the present moment it is important to accept “what is” without judgement. Rushing and multitasking interferes with our ability to be mindful.

Research shows that MBIs can be very meaningful in the treatment of anxiety related disorders. Goldberg, PhD, conducted studies on mindfulness interventions and the marked improvements with the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Goldberg’s findings suggest that meditation training decreases psychological distress such as depression, anxiety, and stress and increases well-being properties such as compassion, social connection and meaning to life (2020). In addition to treating anxiety related disorders, mindfulness affects the areas of the brain the deal with pain tolerance, emotion regulation, introspection, complex thinking, decision making, body awareness, perception, memory, speech, and sense of self. In as little as eight weeks, the density and volume of grey matter in our brain can increase with daily practice of mindfulness.

Reid’s findings suggest that intentional training of MBI’s for all members of the organization can help support students use of MBI’s throughout their entire day. The education that Reid provided Cascade Academy from a digital learning platform proved to be effective; staff reported the training giving them useful tools in working with the students. Overall, the staff at Cascade Academy report confidence in using MBI’s to support the therapeutic process.

Students at Cascade Academy practice mindfulness in a variety of ways including daily wellness walks. Yoga and guided meditation are practiced three times a week with a trained yoga instructor. Mentors are trained to lead mindfulness discussions, and students can utilize a smartphone-based meditation app before technology time.  Mindfulness is also being incorporated into the academic curriculum.

Mindfulness is an awareness of our inner and outer worlds. It is important to take time to pause, breathe deep and soak in the present moment with all its beauty. Be patient and accepting, even of unpleasant emotions, sensations, and thoughts. Trusting ourselves and all our feelings increases our warmth and kindness to others and most importantly ourselves. With all the physical and psychological benefits of mindfulness we would be wise to slow down, focus on deep breathing, tune into our five senses and actively observe our thoughts and surroundings. Let’s do as Reid suggests and, “connect our mind, body and soul.”

Goldberg, S. B., Imhoff-Smith, T., Bolt D. M., Wilson-Mendenhall, C. D., Dahl, C.J., Davidson, R.J., & Rosenkranz, M. A. (2020). Testing the efficacy of a multicomponent, self-guided, smartphone-based meditation app: Three-armed randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 7(11),1-21. http://doi.org/10.2196/23825

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